Fraud cases could soar amid cost of living crisis – Cifas

Businesses and consumers are at growing risk of identity fraud as criminals look to target consumers during the cost of living crisis according to fraud prevention service Cifas. The warning comes as 200,000 cases of fraudulent conduct were filed to the national fraud database in the first six months of 2022 – a rise of 11% on the previous year.

Cifas’ latest Fraudscape report reveals that a large part of that rise has been through rising levels of identity fraud, with over 136,600 cases recorded in 2022 – up a third on last year. Although the main sectors targeted were plastic cards and bank accounts, there was a significant rise in telecom products being targeted.

The rise in the cost of living is providing criminals with new opportunities to steal personal and financial information. Already Cifas is seeing a rise in consumers being targeted by phishing emails purporting to be from utility companies claiming to provide savings on energy bills, as well as offering fuel vouchers, fake jobs and money-making opportunities. It says these emails are becoming increasingly sophisticated as are the links which are designed to harvest personal and financial information.

As a result of the economic crisis, an increasing number of businesses are now expanding into the ‘buy now, pay later’ space, meaning fraudsters are now looking for ways to exploit and take advantage of any vulnerabilities within their processes.

Fraud carried out by staff against their employer was also on the rise, with figures from the Cifas internal fraud database showing cases up by almost half when compared to the previous year. The majority of these cases relate to individuals working in contact centres, and these workers in particular have been targeted by criminals in order to gain access to accounts and processes.

Mike Haley, chief executive of Cifas, said: “Everyone is at risk of being targeted by fraudsters, but the current economic crisis is making consumers even more vulnerable to fraud.

“On average, Cifas members file a case to the national fraud database every two minutes, with three in five of these cases relating to identity fraud. Now more than ever, consumers and businesses need to be vigilant against fraudulent attacks and protect their personal and financial details from being stolen by criminals.”

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